Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sources of Books for Five in a Row Unit Studies

Here are some ideas for ways to buy books for the Five in a Row (FIAR) unit studies.

FIAR manuals

I have purchased most of my manuals at a discount from Rainbow Resource Center. I have never been able to find them in local bookstores, including Borders and Barnes and Noble. I see them in many homeschooling supply catalogs for full price. I also have seen them on eBay but often for just below full price (for a new book) and when shipping was added, it makes the purchase of the used book more expensive than buying new from other sources. Check to see if Amazon sells them and how your purchase can qualify for free shipping.

Picture books to use with FIAR:

New books that are in-print:

I have wasted a lot of time and energy trying to buy FIAR picture books at local bookstores, ranging from independent booksellers to Borders and Barnes and Noble. I have only been able to find a few of the very popular titles in the BFIAR book such as “Goodnight Moon” and “The Carrot Seed”. Therefore, I have turned to either the internet or local library sales as my main sources. Between driving time, gasoline, and searching the shelves at the store, it was all a waste of time. Going on the internet while at home, easily clicking to buy a book is worth the few days’ wait for it to arrive on my doorstep. I also avoid paying state sales tax this way. Some local bookstores do give a teacher discount card to homeschooling parents, but not all do, and I find that online booksellers often discount the same or more than using the educator discount cards.

If you are not in a hurry, want deep discounts, and like to shop library sales, I advise to attend library sales, can help you locate sales in your area. Take a list of FIAR titles that you want and that you already own with you when you go. See the FIAR site for the book lists, you can “copy” and “paste” them inside of your computer’s word processing program to compile a quick list. Then, amend your list by noting which you own already. To reduce the number of pages, reduce the font size to as small as tolerable. I have found both in-print and out-of-print titles at library sales for as little as 25 cents as for as “much” as $1.00.

Check Rainbow Resource Center (RRC). I have found books at RRC which are not sold on Amazon. Oddly, RRC also discounts some of the books that Amazon does not discount.

Check The Book Peddler, a homeschool supply company. They carry many FIAR titles at a discount. I have purchased from their vendor booth at large homeschooling conferences. They also have an internet site and a paper catalog.

Check I have relied on Amazon for some purchases of new books at a discount, and for some that I could not find anywhere else, such as “The Duchess Bakes a Cake”. Usually when buying over $25 worth of books, shipping is free. It only takes the purchase of a couple of hardback books to bring the purchase price above $25.

Make an Amazon wish list and see if friends and relatives will buy from that wish list, for holiday gifts for your children. Some of our relatives ask me to buy gifts for my children; they tell me the amount they want to spend. I then buy FIAR books with the money.

Used books, in print or out of print:

Check eBay, but beware. It seems that many FIAR users are using EBay as the auctions can go for quite high prices. Often sellers bundle FIAR books into “lots”, a term that means a bundle of more than one book. Buying lots may be helpful for the very new person to FIAR. But it doesn’t take long to see duplicates in the lots when compared with what you already own. It can be a hard decision to buy a lot of six books if you only really need one of the books. Who wants to end up with all those duplicates, and is it worth the price?

Some of the more rare titles are going for ridiculous prices on EBay, such as $140 for “The Giraffe that Walked to Paris”. One must seriously weigh the pros and cons of such a purchase. Before spending over the original list price for a used, out of print book, I would advise borrowing a copy of it from your local library or by using interlibrary loan. Make your own evaluation after previewing the book about whether you really need to own it. Or why not use the borrowed book for your FIAR study and be done with it? If you can't get the book through interlibrary loan perhaps you could skip that unit or find another book with similar topics.

It is also alright to skip some of the books in the FIAR manual. The author does not stress that every single book must be “rowed” (a term meaning used for a FIAR unit study).

The more studies I do with single books in the FIAR method, the more books I find that are not in the FIAR manuals which SHOULD be rowed. What I am trying to say is that once you are accustomed to the style and manner of rowing a book a la FIAR, there remains a wealth of opportunities for your family to use OTHER books for unit studies. I find some wonderful books at the library. Some are so great that I decide to purchase one. Other wonderful books are found at library sales, these are either out of print or older books, usually, or they may even be books that are newer than the FIAR manuals themselves.

I have received for free, purchased, and resold or given away FIAR books from/to local homeschoolers. There are a handful of us who are using FIAR and we are always on the lookout for FIAR books for each other. I usually intentionally buy duplicates of FIAR books, especially the more rare books, if I see them at library sales for $1 or less, and resell them to my friends, for what I paid for them. The goal is not to make money but to pick up a great bargain for a friend who needs that book. Make some connections in your local community.

I would advise checking or bookfinder or addall to find used copies of books that you are looking for. This would be most helpful if you are looking for a rare or out of print book. Check the used book listing on Amazon and

There are a bunch of Yahoo Groups! for people/homeschoolers to use to resell books that they are finished using. Prices on the books range from dirt cheap to ridiculously high. I would advise you to find one to three of these groups to join to watch for the books you need. The faster your reply is, the more likely you are to be the lucky buyer of the book(s). I don’t know if there is a Group specifically for FIAR reselling. I do know that FIAR books commonly appear on these Groups:


There are some people, some of which are homeschoolers, who run small businesses of reselling books via the internet. Some of these sellers actually categorize their books with a FIAR category, making shopping easy for you. Check the list of book sellers on Valerie’s Living Books website for a wonderful, long list of homeschoolers who are book resellers.

Another bookseller that I can think of off the top of my head with a FIAR category is Great Lakes Books.

I hope you have some ideas of where you can track down new FIAR books at a discount, used books at deep discounts and where to find those rare, out-of-print treasures. Good luck with bookhunting!

1 comment:

christinemm said...

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